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Registration does not determine doctors’ suitability – Council

Registration does not determine doctors’ suitability for specific posts, the Medical Council has underlined.

In correspondence to Minister for Health Simon Harris in November, the then HSE interim Director General (DG) Mr John Connaghan wrote that an incompetent SHO hired at University Maternity Hospital Limerick had been “fully registered” with the Medical Council and his fitness to practise “had already been determined” by the Council “granting him a registration number”. The correspondence between Minister Harris and Mr Connaghan related to concerns over hospital recruitment practices nationally, following comments by High Court President Mr Justice Kelly.

A Council spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) that an employer “needs to ensure the doctor is suitable to the post for which they are recruiting. Registration does not determine suitability for specific posts, it determines that a doctor has reached the necessary standards of education and training to be granted registration on the register only.”

In his correspondence to Mr Connaghan, Minister Harris noted Mr Justice Kelly’s comment that the Limerick case was “not isolated” and defective recruitment procedures had led to the appointment of doctors who were “an obvious danger to patients”. Minister Harris requested an urgent response regarding the issue.

A part of Mr Connaghan’s reply was redacted. He stated that the doctor in Limerick had recently qualified from an EU medical school and was “fully registered”.  Supervisors at UL Hospitals acted “promptly” in addressing the concerns.

He advised that first-year SHOs were “expected to have only the basic skills” of a doctor who had just completed intern year.

The HSE leadership team had recently approved in principle the development of a new recruitment model “that reflects a situation where a greater volume of recruitment is now being carried out at local level”. Mr Connaghan added that he would consider the implications of the court judgment in more detail.

In a circular to hospitals in early March, the HSE warned that graduates of medical schools in some EEA member states are considered to have completed basic medical training without a separate clinical internship. Those responsible for recruitment should be aware that NCHDs who have completed their basic medical training in these countries are eligible for general registration with the Medical Council and can apply directly for SHO or registrar posts, “which may be their first paid clinical role”.

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